Linen thread count determines bedding quality
Linens and fabrics can vary greatly depending on thread count and other factors
When choosing linens that will last and provide comfort, you should know in advance that a higher linen thread count does not necessarily equal the best choice in bedding, which many of us have been led to believe. Thread count is important but the quality of thread used is equally important.
Linen thread count means the number of vertical and horizontal
threads found in a one square inch of fabric. Smoothness and softness of linens, luxury bedding
and fabric depends on the ply of the thread and thickness of the thread that
is used to construct the material. Ply is the number of threads that are
intertwined in a single thread. The most common types of ply are single-ply and
two-ply. The latter is made of two threads entwined.
It is not, however, accurate to say that a material has a 500 thread count when two-ply is used simply because the two-ply yarn is considered double the thread count. Two-ply does not mean that the threads are finer. What two-ply does mean is that the threads are more tightly twisted together, which does not necessarily improve the feel or texture of the material.
Linen thread count generally ranges from 80 to 800, although most thread counts fall in the 180 and 320 range. One would assume that a higher thread count would result in more durability but this is not always the case. Those linens and fabrics in the 180 to 200 range are sufficiently durable and comfortable.
Quality linens and materials are the result of several factors, including the thickness and the superiority of the thread that is used to produce the product. Fine threads that are created out of top notch strands will result in smooth, delicate and soft sheet material. A 250 thread count sheet, when made with premium thread, can be far more plush than a 500 count sheet that is made of inferior thread.
Types of thread weaves that are used in fine linen bedding and all other bed sheets include percale, sateen, jersey and flannel. The weave is another factor in the ultimate outcome of the product. Percale is a closely woven, plain fabric that feels silky and smooth. It is constructed from combed and carded cotton. Flannel is warm and soft and is a good choice for cold weather. It has a napped finish. Flannel is usually made of cotton. Jersey is great for draping and for clothing because it is a knitted elastic material. Sateen is made of a weave that creates more yarn surface on the face of the cloth. The result is a soft, shiny appearance.
Flannel and jersey material do not lend themselves well to high linen thread counts. If the thread count were varied too greatly and made too high this would change the feel and look of these fabrics, which is what we like about them in the first place. When trying to make certain fabrics, such as jersey and flannel, softer by upping the thread count, this compromises other parts of the fabric and the result is not good.
To fully understand fabrics and linens, in addition to
the thread count, you need to take into consideration the quality of the yarn
(cotton) that has been used. A good quality yarn is dependent on the
length of the cotton fiber. Long cotton can be spun into stronger, finer and
smoother yarn and it can be woven into more threads per inch, which results in
a higher thread count. Poor quality cotton yarns can be tightly woven into a
square inch to make the thread count higher but the outcome is a heavy, coarse
When producing a very high quality bed
sheet, a process that is called mercerized takes place which plumps the fibers
and provides the fabric with more strength and luster.
Take all of these factors into consideration when purchasing linens and fabrics. Do not make your selection based on linen thread count alone.